Monthly Archives: December 2013

Signs and portents?

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It has been a very mild week!  There is even a snowdrop blooming in the garden!  Gone are the snow and the rain.  I was out in the garden a couple of days ago, sorting out Christmas lights.   I looked down, and there on my arm was a butterfly, sitting there quietly as I moved wires about and pegged down my favourite robin light.  What was a butterfly doing in my garden at this time of year?   And he was not for moving!   I climbed over the fence to show it to my neightbour and he did not move.   I went into the house to show it to my wife, and he did not move.   I messed about taking his picture with my mobile phone, and he did not move.  I went inside to get my big camera and as I went back into the garden he decided he had had enough and off he flew.

In a week when “selfie” pictures are in the news here is a selfie picture of my arm, with the tortoiseshell butterfly;  and for good measure another selfie picture of me taken with my big camera for a bit of nonsense.

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As I was packing up to go inside I notced two vapour trails from aeroplanes in the sky above the setting sun.  They had crossed over and were forming a St Andrew’s Cross against the pale blue sky.  Not a great picture I know, but well worth recording with the mobile phone again.

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Inevitably I thought of the story of King Aengus MacFergus, King of the Picts and his victory over King Athelstane of the Northumbrians at the battle of Athelstaneford, near Haddington.  The story goes that he had a vision of St Andrew in the night and during the battle, Aengus saw a cross of white clouds against a blue sky – hence the Saltire which has been the emblem of Scotland since then.   In these days in the run-up to the Independence Referendum, was this another sign in the sky?

The ancients took great interest in signs and their interpretation.  What would they make of a snowdrop in December, a winter butterfly and a cross in the sky, I wonder?

 

Moving Water

My photographic subject just now is to try to picture moving water.  It is wonderful the patterns and effects you can get if you fix your camera rock steady on a tripod and use a slow enough speed to blur the moving water.   Sometimes it can be quite ethereal!  The lack of light is not a problem either.  Some of the pictures I have taken recently were in mid-afternoon when it was getting quite dark.

My first problem is to find the right water.  I would love to find a local waterfall like the one I managed to photograph in the Fairy Glen at Rosemarkie on the Black Isle.   But I have not found a waterfall in Cruden Country.  Perhaps someone can point me to one?

Waterfall at the Fairy Glen, Rosemarkie

Waterfall at the Fairy Glen, Rosemarkie

That leaves me with two choices:  water moving over stones in a burn, or the waves on the sea.

The Water of Cruden near the  Mill of Auchleuchries

The Water of Cruden near the Mill of Auchleuchries

The Water of Cruden near the  Mill of Auchleuchries

The Water of Cruden near the Mill of Auchleuchries

My first attempt was near the bridge at the Mill of Auchleuriches.  I had been here before in the spring time when I was doing my piece about the Bridges of Cruden Country.   To show the moving water at its best you need to look for a fixed focal point to add contrast.  I noticed a big stone, and cheating a little –  I added some leaves to the top.   I think the one with the big green leaf is the best shot and I am calling it “Marooned”!

The Water of Cruden near the  Mill of Auchleuchries

The Water of Cruden near the Mill of Auchleuchries

Marooned! The Water of Cruden near the Mill of Auchleuchries

I have added for contrast a picture of took in June of the same location.

A summer shot - The Water of Cruden near the  Mill of Auchleuchries

A summer shot – The Water of Cruden near the Mill of Auchleuchries

Residents of Hatton may have seen me gazing down into the water of the local burns, but I have not found a location here that fits the bill.  The Water of Cruden flows too slowly, with so sign of the rapids and white water I am looking for.   A little better is the little burn that flows beside the Hatton Mill.  You know the one that caused all the problem on 23 December last year when it undermined the bridge.   Today the water was shallow enough for me to wade in, park my tripod in the middle of the water and try a few shots.  But nothing quite produced the effect I was looking for.  Here are a couple of them.

On the burn beside the Hatton Mill

On the burn beside the Hatton Mill

On the burn beside the Hatton Mill

On the burn beside the Hatton Mill

We went down to the beach a Whinyfold last week, lugging camera bag and tripod.  It was strange to be there without grandchildren.  I seem to have taken lots of pictures of the children there these past few months.   But there were no waves to speak of.   I will need to go back when the tide is further in and there is more swell.  Still I came away with a couple of pictures, including the one taken just as the sun broke through what had been a grey overcast sky.  Now the sky was bathed in colour in stark contrast to the black rocks in the foreground.  Quite a contrast in the two pictures taken just minutes apart.

Whinnyfold

Whinnyfold

Whinnyfold

Whinnyfold

When we got back to the car everything was bathed in orange light, cliff, sea, not to mention boats.  Pictures are about being at the right place at the right time.

Whinnyfold

Whinnyfold

This is still a work in progress.

Things to do before Christmas:

  • Look out for a local waterfall to photograph.
  • Go back to the shore when there is more of a swell, perhaps at the rocks at Port Erroll Harbour
  • Find some rapids on some of our local burns.